Category: Business Guide

What is the Difference Between a Business Name and a Trading Name?

April 04, 2018

When applying to register trademark for your business, you have to consider both the business and trading names that you’ll use, as well as the extent of which you can use them.

Because there are only so many words that can perfectly sum up your brand of products or services that has not yet been taken by a competitor in Singapore, applying for trademark registration for your company name can be quite tricky.

Understanding terms such as “trade name”, “legal name”, and “trademark” is important, as they have specific legal meanings meant to be used for specific instances.

Trademark in a Nutshell

Essentially, trademarks are graphical representations (a certain combination of lines, shapes, symbols, etc.) used by businesses to distinguish their goods and services from their competitors’. They can, and are, often used interchangeably with “brand name”, and this definition can also extend to slogans used in combination with these graphical representations.

Before you register trademarks and gain exclusivity of use of a certain name, logo or mark, it’s important that you look at how you present your brand, as this affects how you want your potential consumers to perceive you and your business.

Business Name

The business name, otherwise known as the legal name, is the official name of the entity or person that owns the company. For partnerships, the legal name is given in the partnership agreement or is usually the last names of the partners combined. (Ex: Procter & Gamble)

For limited liability companies or corporations, the business’ legal name is the one registered with the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), and will often be affixed with a legal prefix, such as LLC, LLP, Inc., Pte. Ltd., etc.

Remember to register TM for your intellectual property – applying to register trademark for your business name protect your brand as well as your business as a whole. However, while trademark registration protects your intellectual property from being stolen, this should not be an automatic ground to file an infringement claim for other companies who happen to be using a name or design that’s similar.

Fortunately, scenarios like this happen to be few and far in-between. When submitting your application to register trademark for your brand, your application will be compared against a record of all existing businesses for similarities or other grounds for objection.

Trading Name

The trade name is different from the business’s legal name. Usually, it can be summed up as the informal version of the legal name, and is used frequently in advertising. One good example of this is that you don’t see the legal name “McDonald’s Corporation”, “The Procter & Gamble Company”, or even “The Coca-Cola Company” in advertisements and advertising media.

Instead, the names you see on billboards and signs in real life or on the internet are “McDonald’s”, or “P&G”, or simply “Coca-Cola”. Legal names are rarely consumer-friendly, which is why abridged versions of brand names without the prefix are often used to market products and services.

Even though trading names are technically not business names, they can already be used as a registered mark if the company or entity is already using that name in their business. While they are not necessarily included in the trademark registration application form, it certainly helps to cement your claim as this allows you exclusive right to use them.

Choosing the Name for Your Business

Choosing a business name for your company before applying for a registered mark can be complicated, as the company name can tell consumers a lot about what your business is, as well as indicate the quality of your products and services. This can often form the basis of your brand, and can either make or break your company.
One way to avoid this is often by simply registering your name and adding “company” as a suffix. However, there are different reasons as to why you may not want to register your own name; one of these reasons is that it places a significant pressure on you personally.
You can check the availability of a name through a trademark registering company in Singapore like www.brandmark.sg to make sure that no one has claimed it yet. Once you find that this name hasn’t been claimed by any entity, you’re free to claim it for yourself.

Changing the Name of Your Business

Your business’s aims can change as it grows, and this doesn’t have to be a bad thing – in fact, you can always change your business name in order to reflect your company’s growth. Here are the steps you should take in order to change your company’s name:

1. As with the first time that you chose the name for your business, you need to cross-reference your intended name with existing databases to make sure that they are different from existing names. The IPOS should be able to take care of this for you with your new application.

2. Let the IPOS know that you are changing your business’s name, and fill out and submit the provided form. For sole proprietorship businesses, it’s best to file and submit a new DBA registration form.

Your name will depend on your business structure, although usually these kinds of name changes are mostly the same name but with an added suffix at the end.

3. Update the name on your licenses, permits, and other corporate paperwork, such as contracts, leases, and loan documents. You should also update your website, signs, and other branding materials to minimize confusion from your consumers.

Get to Know the Logistics Laws in Singapore

November 20, 2017

Picking the right freight forwarding services for your company can help you focus on improving and expanding your business, but besides considering the types of services that a logistics company offer, you should also be aware of some of the laws in importation, exportation, trade and clearance documentation and permits, licensing and warehousing, the free trade zones, the fees, offences, errors and penalties, and the list of prohibited goods. On top of that, you should at least have an idea about international transportation if you need air freight or sea freight for your international freight needs.

Sounds complicated, right? But knowing all these can also help you find the right freight forwarder in Singapore, because you understand what your company specifically needs. Let’s start by defining the terms you will often hear from your logistics company.

    1. Freight Forwarder

    A freight forwarder is ideal for small to medium-sized businesses that want to transport goods that will fit in one full container. This is much easier than utilizing postal or delivery services which will cost you more if you need to deliver more goods. Freight forwarding services after all is affiliated with shipping lines, air freight, and both local freight and international freight. They can arrange all the paperwork for you and negotiate prices for the transportation of goods with other logistics services. They can also perform other tasks for you, such as Customs clearance, insurance, warehousing, and inventory.

    2. Shipping Line

    The shipping line should be obvious. It is a freight forwarding Singapore company that operates ships and containers to transport goods around the world. Shipping lines are mostly employed by large companies, although small-time clients can book one container for cargo. So, why not contact a shipping company directly instead of going through a freight forwarder in Singapore? The shipping company usually charges full for each container regardless if you can fill each container or not. Through freight forwarding services, however, you can get competitive prices instead.

    3. Shipping Company

    A shipping company, also called an exporter, is the party responsible for the transportation of your goods, but they could also be the manufacturer, the seller, or the company where the point of origin of the product is to be picked up.

    4. Consignee and Customer

    The consignee refers to the party that receives the goods at its place of destination and is also called the receiver or importer, while the customer is the party that is responsible for booking and paying for the shipment of items. The customer contacts a freight forwarder in Singapore and the freight forwarder in turn arranges the shipment with a company that offers logistics services to move the merchandise efficiently from one place to another.

Defining which is which is important when fulfilling the requirements for importation and exportation of goods, because that will also determine your rights, responsibilities, and liabilities. Don’t worry though, because the freight forwarding services is well-versed in both local freight and international freight, and it is their task to make the process easier for you.
 

 
How International Shipping is Done

Singapore imports goods from various parts of the world, whether it’s for a small-time business or international corporations. This is also perhaps the most complicated part of the transportation of goods because a lot of parties are involved to complete it.

The logistics company is trained to deal with the shipping company, Customs brokers, air freight, sea freight, and other parties to make the shipment of goods easier. Small shipments that will fit in one standard ocean shipping container (less than 20 cubic meters), also called Less than Container Load (LCL), go through the following process: haulage (origin), handling (origin), Customs clearance (for exportation), sea freight, Customs clearance (for importation), handling (destination), and haulage (destination).

It should be clear in the contract which one will be paying for each step (yes, there are fees and documents for each), as well as establishing which one is liable for the items transported. That way, if something happens to cargo, someone will pay for the damage.

Import Procedure in Singapore

The Singapore Customs website contains all the necessary information needed for importation in Singapore, so this section will just be an overview of what you should expect during the freight forwarding process.

All the items that are imported into the country are subject to the regulations of the Customs Act, Regulation of Imports and Exports Act, and Goods and Services Tax Act.

The importer or the receiver of the goods is required to get a Customs permit regardless if the importer is an individual or a company. The receiver is specifically required to prepare the declaration requirements and the taxes for the goods, whether it’s a non-dutiable goods or dutiable goods, based on the insurance, cost, and freight values.

Import Requirements in Singapore

Besides the Customs permit, the commercial invoice is also needed to determine which party is the consignee and the importer of the items. You are also required to do the following:

    1. Check if the imported merchandise is prohibited
    2. Pay for the GST (Goods and Services tax) and other duties
    3. Deposit the merchandise in free trade zones in Singapore, regardless if it was transported through sea freight or air freight
    4. Provide containerised cargo documents for clearance

Documents should be kept within the next five years as reference if any issue arises. These will include the books of accounts, commercial invoice, packing list, air waybill, bills of lading, certificate of origin and analysis, insurance certificate, and other related documents.

Standard Trading Conditions of Freight Forwarders

The Singapore Logistics Association website contains details about the standard trading conditions that are practiced by the freight forwarding services in Singapore.

The document includes the obligations of the customer, instructions in the handling of goods and the services, indemnities and charges, rights of the company, liabilities, compensation, and laws and jurisdiction. There are currently over 500 members which follow these standards of logistics services.
 

Hiring Contractors for Your Rental Property

October 17, 2017

Whether you’re a property owner in Singapore or a newly hired property manager, when it comes to handling a rental property, keeping every unit in tiptop condition is a number one necessity. Therefore, it really pays off to hire a professional contractor.

Before you start scanning the yellow pages and asking family, friends, and neighbors around, find out first how you should hire a qualified contractor to take care of your investment property.

Professionals Are a Must

Professionals provide quality work, and it is the most important matter in making sure that your rental units are in their best condition. Professional contractors vary mainly in knowledge and skills, and a little research beforehand can ensure that you hire the best worker.

When hiring contractors for property management, you need to consider the quality of work and the completion time. Though the cost must be considered as well, it shouldn’t be the only deciding factor. Look for someone who is an expert in a specific task, and not someone who claims that he knows how to do various things. For instance, if you need someone who does property management in Singapore to fix your electric lines, hire an electrician. If you need someone to fix the pipes and faucets, hire a plumber. Never be fooled by a contractor who claims that he “specializes” in 10 different jobs.

Require Certifications and Licenses

Singapore has a public database for licensed and certified workers related to property management and construction industry. Hiring someone with valid license and/or certification will ensure great work and protect you from great loss if in case the hired worker damages your property or himself. Countries have created regulations to protect property owners from scammers that agree to contracts that will never be fulfilled. When you choose to hire professional contractors, estimations are often free of charge, and all works are invoiced and well-detailed after problem inspection is completed.

Payment System for Contractors

An initial payment of 20 to 30 percent is typically required by contractors to get the work started. This enables your workers to purchase all necessary materials and start the work. If your managing agent employs separate workers, the salary of those employees are already included in the down payment. Your managing agent should not require you to pay an additional amount because additional workers are required when the job starts. Always be mindful with the expenses and never fail to check it every after major purchase. Your remaining balance should only be settled after the work is done, and the contractor should be able to provide you with a warranty in case of component failure or workmanship error.

Hiring a reliable contractor for a rental property can be difficult, especially when you’re not informed with the right things to do. Following the tips above will help you avoid scammers and ensure that your property is maintained professionally. Lastly, if working with a management company, you can ask these experts for recommendations for hiring quality contractors.

Trends in VoIP

September 26, 2017

Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP is a type of service that allows you to make phone calls for free or at a cheaper price than a traditional phone system. As the name implies, it uses the Internet, that is why it is also referred to as Internet calling, IP telephone or Internet telephony. VoIP is hailed as the most innovative way of communication not just at home, but also in different business sectors, especially companies that have offices overseas.

In Singapore, it is considered by the business and communications sectors as the best way to cut down communication costs and is also an opportunity to tap into features that are not available in the traditional phone system.

Types of VoIP

VoIP works by converting the analog voice signals into digital signals (communication experts call this packets) and then transmitting these through a network or the Internet. Below are the different ways to use VoIP:

    1. Phone to Phone

    Sometimes called analog telephone adapter (ATA), phone-to-phone communication will let you receive and make calls if your standard landline is connected to a computer network. The phone will need the ATA to be able to convert analog into digital signals and transmit the converted signals with the use of VoIP.

    2. Computer to Computer

    Using VoIP, you will now be able to make and receive calls through a computer if both the sender and receiver are connected to the same network. This replaces the long-distance calls that are expensive, because you will only be paying for the voip in Singapore Internet service. Both the receiver and sender, however, need to install and register for the same software and use a speaker and a microphone to be able to connect. These VoIP software are usually free and easy to use.

    3. Phone to Computer

    Sometimes called IP phone, phone-to-computer communication is now possible and is gaining popularity even among those at home and not just in business. An IP phone is similar to your smart phones, but it needs an RJ45 connector so that it can use a network through a router. The IP phone already has built-in hardware and software for such purposes and it can even connect to Wi-Fi so that you can make calls anywhere even outside Singapore.

    4. Computer to Phone

    The same is true for making calls from your computer to a phone as long as both devices are using the same VoIP software and are connected to the Internet. It’s possible to make video calls as well if both the computer and the phone have microphones and speakers installed.

    5. Mobile Devices to Other Devices

    It is now possible to make calls from your phone to other mobile devices and vice versa, as long as both devices are using the same VoIP software and are connected to the Internet.

VoIP in Business

A hosted VoIP system for your business in Singapore is an investment that allows the company to do more things efficiently with less cost. Why is it cheaper than a traditional telephony system that has been used in business for years? VoIP integrates all the phone, video, and data bundles into one service that primarily uses the Internet.

That is why VoIP is a cheap, fast, flexible, and secure communications system for your business. But how will you know which hosted VoIP system is the right one for your company? Most companies hire a third party to host VoIP and to provide the necessary hardware as well.

When looking for a company that will handle your IP PBX telephone system, make sure that their services will fit the needs of the business. The perks usually include services and products for computer networking, cloud VoIP, PBX phone system, data management, telephone/computer and cabling, and video conferencing options. Other host companies have different packages for business VoIP and those that need special and advanced features.

The following services are the trends in business VoIP:

    1. Cloud VoIP

    The cloud VoIP is a system that is based on the technology called cloud computing. It means that all the data that are received, transmitted, and stored are placed in the Internet instead of storing them in the computer or other hardware. You may be surprised to know that cloud has been around since the 1990s as a means of storing data from point to point. Nowadays, cloud VoIP is considered an efficient way of storing data that will allow all users from the same company to access files regardless of the device used and the location of the user, as long as there is Internet connection. Businesses in Singapore can use cloud VoIP or cloud PBX (private branch exchange) even without the use of an IP PBX telephone system that will be discussed below.

    2. Hosted PBX

    Hosted PBX (private branch exchange) is type of VoIP system does not require the business to have their own VoIP system, but they can hire a third party to let them lease equipment and services. The company’s current telephone system may be used or replaced, and other devices such as mobile phones can be used through the hosted PBX. Employees can work outside the office premises with the use of different mobile devices, but they are still connected to the same VoIP system.

    3. PBX Phone System

    Some companies prefer a separate network for voice communications and another for data communications. This system is called IP PBX telephone system, PBX phone system or hosted PBX, which uses a converged voice and data network so that each employee in the company has one line to access the Internet, phone, and other non-traditional communication systems. It works as a telephone switching system within the company, allowing the employee to switch between the local traditional lines and VoIP, and vice versa.